5 “Unconventional” Thoughts on Core Training

5 “Unconventional” Thoughts on Core Training

Here we go again… Monika rants about “core training”. Some more.

Can you blame me? It’s like the universe wants me to talk about it.

A few weeks ago was invited to lead a  core training workshop with a group of dancers at York University. Here’s a little clip for ya:

And just last weekend I was invited on the Eat Well Move Well podcast with Galina and Roland Denzel (two incredible people, wow!), who caught me off guard by stating that I had an interesting way of approaching the core strength idea. 

This surprised me because I definitely do not have any new or ideas on the topic. I’m just doing my best to reiterate what the most influential people I’ve had the honour of learning from have taught me in a language that makes sense to myself, my clients, and hopefully to you.

My thoughts on core training are not new, and not that interesting. But for the dance world, I guess they can seem unconventional.

The “core”, much like the Earth, has been around and doing just fine long before we naively intervened and labeled it “core”; it was probably doing better for itself (and for us!) before we tried to systematize, aestheticize, and control it’s training.

I feel uneasy about adding more “new” stuff to this information-cluttered internet-thing we’re addicted to getting answers from, but it hurts me more to see people doing silly things with their bodies *coughtraceyandersoncough* in an ignorant, tone-oriented, sympathetic-driven haze, for the sake of “core strength” and a six pack.

Let’s clear some of that haze, eh?

Here are some of the supposedly “unconventional” ideas on core training I hold that are actually anything but unconventional- They’re quite sensible.

WHAT IS “CORE TRAINING”?

And the reason I feel it is even necessary to write this is because every single dang dancer ever in their career will hear from a teacher that they need a “stronger core”. I’ve yet to meet a dancer who hasn’t.

Core training goes beyond concentrically working the muscles we are commonly taught need to be strengthened and toned.

My approach is guided by five key principles. If you understand these principles and base your training around them, it really doesn’t matter what exercises you choose (for the most part…).

1. Know your anatomy: Understand the intrinsic and extrinsic core subsystems and their roles. 

2. Breathing: Learn to create intra-abdominal pressure and load core musculature through your breath.

3. Mobility: Recognize and appraise the need for mobility as a prerequisite for training stability.

4. Remove roadblocks for reactive core: Become aware of compensatory patterns that could be limiting effortless core connectivity.

5. Semantics: Place importance on the words used to describe training, which matter just as much as the physical training.

These principles matter more than the exercises you use.

Let’s go into these in a bit more detail.

1. THOUGHTS ON CORE FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY

It is kind of important to have at least a little bit of understanding of which muscles we’re talking about. Kind of.  What’s more important is to FEEL them.

Today my colleague Wensy Wong, kinesiologist and massage therapist, ie has MAJOR anatomy knowledge, told me that it wasn’t until just recently she really understood the psoas, because finally she could feel it. Knowing where a muscle is in a textbook, in 2D, is one thing, feeling it in your body is completely different. You have to experience it to know it.

You can’t say that you know someone personally because you read their autobiography and stalk them on the internet.

Anyway, some anatomy.

The core is more than just the muscles of your trunk and your abs. Think of the core as a hierarchical system of units.

Intrinsic core musculature (inner unit): Deeper muscles, not responsible for creating large movements, but hold “stuff” together.

  • Transverse abdominis (TVA)
  • Multifidus
  • Jaw
  • Pelvic floor
  • Diaphragm
  • Internal obliques
  • Lower erector spinae

Extrinsic core musculature (outer unit): More superficial muscles, important in larger movements.

  • Rectus abdominis
  • External obliques
  • Upper erector spinae
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductors
  • Psoas major
  • Quadratus lumborum

Understand that in the hierarchy of the core system, intrinsic subsystem function is most fundamental.

We’d like to see these two systems in balance, performing their proper roles: The instrinsic system holding stuff together and providing adequate intra-abdominal pressure and proprioception (position sensing) so that the extrinsic core can allow us to move freely.

It is possible for all or part of the intrinsic core unit to become relied upon excessively for movement rather than the extrinsic core, and visa versa. Sometimes, one part of the intrinsic unit will be working harder than another in an attempt to find a sense of grounding, counter-balance, or irradiation to increase muscle contractile strength (examples of this coming up a bit further down…).

This should, ideally, be cleaned up and re-trained before performing a more complex, high-threshold exercise. Even a plank can get messy if this system isn’t balanced.

2. BREATH CONTROL = CORE CONTROL

This really should not be considered unconventional. Many people claim to “know” that breathing is important for core connectivity. We hear it every dang day as dancers, yogis, pilates-ers (what’s the plural for a pilates enthusiast?).

So if you really “know” it, then why aren’t you working on it? Why aren’t you teaching it? Why haven’t you made progress with “core strength”? Telling students to breathe isn’t the same as coaching them on how to breathe for core connectivity.

Remember that to know is to have had experienced it. Do you really know how breathing affects core connectivity? Have you ever felt that connection?

This is tricky. It’s something that often requires coaching. Get on that. It’s totally worth it.

The breath allows you to create an “airbag for your spine”, to load core musculature, and create a safe space mentally for you to train, adapt, and recover.

Here’s how:

Creating intra-abdominal pressure: Air pressure in the abdominal cavity prevents excessive movement in the spine- dictated by our breathing. Using “umbrella”-style inhalations (360 degree expansion) to fill out the abdominal cavity evenly creates an “air bag” to cushion the spine as it moves freely, allowing muscles to load as a response.

Coupling solid intra-abdominal pressure with an abdominal contraction (by holding the breath in and contracting the abs) is called bracing, and is useful under heavy load. However, this isn’t how you want to get stuck. Life doesn’t always need to be a heavy load, high intensity ordeal… Unless you’re on a reality TV show.

Eccentric and concentric loading: Inhalation, is required for eccentric loading (lengthening) of the abdominal muscles as the abdomen expands. A muscle first needs to be able to lengthen to be contracted effectively, and an 360 degree inhalation does just that.

A full exhalation concentrically contracts the abs and gives us Zone of Apposition (ZOA) with the ribcage depressed. This position allows for a more ideal use of both intrinsic and extrinsic core muscles, because joint position dictates muscle reaction.

Inhale Exhale
Diaphragm Concentric contraction (shortening) Eccentric contraction (lengthening)
Abs Eccentric contraction(lengthening) Concentric contraction (shortening)

Autonomic nervous system state: Exhalations bring the nervous system to a safe state of growth, recovery, and flow, where learning and change is possible, by activating the vagus nerve. This state- parasympathetic (opposite of fight/flight), is a state where you should ideally approach training from if you actually want to improve.

So you can do 500 stress-crunches while you hold your breath and grind your teeth. I. Don’t. Care.

3. CORE MOBILITY

All we talk about as an industry (both in dance and fitness) is core stability, being in control, and preventing movement but, consider this: Your spine has 33 joints- It was designed for effortless movement!

Things that are chunks, or planks, or blocks were designed to be rigid by nature of their structure. Things that are designed to have many small parts and joints are naturally intended to allow movement.

So would we train our spines for stability before considering its innate need to move? And I don’t blame you. I was that idiot-trainer making my clients do planks, preaching the value of “stability”, before appraising their spinal mobility. Don’t be idiot-me. You’re better than that.

Consider these four ways that your core craves mobility:

Spinal stability vs. spinal mobility: Preventing the spine from moving by stiffening is useful at times, but full potential for movement of the spine is prerequisite for stability. How long and fast could you ride a bike with a rusty chain and jammed links? Your spine, like a bike chain, needs to have the potential to allow movement at all segments. Appraise the spine’s need for mobility before giving it a stability solution.

Courtesy of Gary Ward, here’s one of my favourite spinal mobility experiences right now- Cogs:

First joints act, then muscles react (to movement): Movement of the skeleton dictates muscle (re)action. The goal is not to forcefully activate and and consciously engage the core, but to allow it to reflexively fire as a reaction to movement. So movement of the spine and pelvis, to which “core” musculature attaches, is necessary for the muscles to load and contract.

Muscles must lengthen before they contract: Like a slingshot, muscles “load to explode”. Training only concentrically by shortening muscles to create movement (think crunches) does not replicate this natural function. Excessive “tone-seeking”, thus, can prevent lengthening, reducing mobility and reactivity, and limiting performance. Concentric work is useful, but length needs to be created before you can earn the right to shorten.

Management of base of support within center of mass: How much movement can your center of mass access within your base of support? How far can you shift without moving your feet before you fall or need to take a step? Core muscles react as the body moves away from and back towards center.

When we keep things “tight” constantly it doesn’t allow this natural movement in and out of our base of support. Finding “center” therefore, is more a result of experiencing a full spectrum of movement, not of keeping things tight.

4. REMOVING ROADBLOCKS: COMMON CORE COMPENSATIONS

Remember above I mentioned there are ways the core systems can become out of balance? This can happen be due to trauma, injury, habitual ways of holding our bodies, or repetitive patterns of moving. These roadblocks can prevent our bodies from accessing joint movements and positions.

Many of us unconsciously develop strategies to get around these roadblocks. These “compensations” are not bad. THANK your body for finding these clever strategies and allowing you to continue to move and live. Know that they aren’t serving you anymore, address them head on, and find a new way through them, not around.

Here are some common road-blocks for dancers (and most humans):

  • Breath-holding: Can cause diaphragm to be used more as a muscle of stabilization (due to it’s connection to the spine) than respiration, influencing spine/ribcage position, movement potential, and ability to recover from training.
  • Jaw clenching/shifting: An attempt for proprioception, counterbalance, co-contraction, or a response to stress and strain and is commonly found to be facilitated in relation to abdominal function.As Dr. Kathy Dooley explains HERE:

Because the TMJ has more proprioception per surface area than any other joint in the human body, you will go where your jaw shifts you to go…When the jaw shifts, the center of mass shifts. This will down-regulate recruitment of the opposite side core in the sagittal plane.

  • Pelvic floor: Part of the intrinsic unit, tightness, overworking, weakness, sub-optimal positioning, digestive function, organ issues, urinary control, all influence core function.
  • Mobility limitations in general: Can affect the ability of core muscles to load, reducing their role ability to react to movement (limited hip mobility, and spine segmental mobility in at least one of three planes is fairly safe to assume…).

You cannot change that which you are not yet aware of. Do you know which roadblocks could be in your path?

Sometimes, just cultivating awareness and openness to change is all it takes to make a shift. Other times, it is necessary to seek guidance from a movement coach or therapist to help you. NeuroKinetic Therapy (TM) practitioners and Anatomy in Motion folks are trained to discover and unwind these compensatory strategies (but so can most good therapists of any background).

5. CORE SEMANTICS

As a writer, I appreciate the power of words, and I know a lot of you do, too. But the correlation between core training and the words we traditionally use to talk about it in dance is particularly interesting. And in major need of change.

“Core semantics” shape our results, and require a consideration equal to the physical training itself, as we speak to ourselves and guide others as dancers, teachers, therapists, and parents.

In the table below, which column sounds more useful? Which sounds more like dance? Which choice of vocabulary will you apply to your “core training”?

On the left, words we use that limit potential movement by asking dancers to contract muscles, and on the right, words we can consider using to encourage dancers to move, allow muscles to lengthen, and explore new ranges of motion. A different perspective on "core training" for some folks, perhaps.

On the left, words we use that limit potential movement by asking dancers to contract muscles, and on the right, words we can consider using to encourage dancers to move, allow muscles to lengthen, and explore new ranges of motion. A different perspective on “core training” for some folks, perhaps.

 

DEDICATE 30 DAYS TO EXPLORING YOUR CORE:

Ready to commit yourself to figuring out this “core” thing? I’ve got just the thing for you:

Sign up for the next free 30 day Restore Your Core Challenge. You’ll learn to master one concept and exercise each week through exploration of the “core concepts”, exercise video tutorials, and  community support. Join our tribe of stronger dancers and learn how taking a few minutes each day to unlock the power of your “core” can transform the way you move and feel. Totally free. Find out what could change if you dedicated a few minutes each day to unravelling your core. We do these challenges LIVE, together, every July, October, January, and April.

CONCLUSIONS?

I suppose if you had to take just one thing away from this article it would be that core training is really just a result of allowing your body to explore movement and breath so it can do what it needs to do when it needs to do it.

Need to lift something heavy? Make sure you have access to all ranges of motion necessary to do that and understand how to breathe for that situation.

Need to balance on one leg for 30 seconds? Make sure you have access to all ranges of motion necessary to do that and understand how to breathe for that situation.

Simple as that. Maybe too simple. But simple does not mean easy.

Funny how just by allowing you body to move into ranges of motion that have been denied or avoided, breathing appropriately for the situation, using a more helpful choice of words, and getting some help when you get stuck the “core” just kind of takes care of itself without much time and energy spent on “training the abs”.

For more information on unconventional/sensible ways of training for dance, check out Dance Stronger: A multi-media resource created to help you understand the why and how of training breath, movement, and strength to improve dance performance and reduce soreness. Available by donation, so no excuses 😉 Get training!

 

 

 

Optimizing Thoracic Spine Function in Dancers

Optimizing Thoracic Spine Function in Dancers

I confess that for the past few years I’ve been doing something wrong.

Not wrong in such a way that I’ve been harming anyone, but I certainly wasn’t being as effective as I could have been, and rather than pretend like I’m brilliant 100% of the time, I’d like to use this blog post to rectify my past mistakes.

Namely…

Ohhhh man what was I thinking spending so much time on thoracic spine extension drills??

It was an honest mistake, what with all the talk that “everyone needs more T spine extension, you can never have enough”. That was what I was taught a few years ago, after all, before I learned any different. Can you blame me?

I used to assume that all dancers needed more thoracic spine extension, and that was wrong.

Optimizing thoracic spine function in dancers isn’t just about increasing thoracic extension.

Just because the majority of the human population probably does need more T spine extension from spending most of their waking hours seated, does that mean I should assume the same of the dance population? Nope. Dancers, in fact, spend the majority of their time extending their spines, not sitting flexed, and can get stuck in T spine extension.

To boot, the T spine is supposed to be flexed. Relatively. Too much flexion is detrimental, but a “neutral” T spine sits flexed, slightly kyphotic, like the picture below.

http://i2.wp.com/www.ericcressey.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/174px-Gray_111_-_Vertebral_column-coloured.png?resize=147%2C505
To quote physical therapist Eric Schoenberg,

“The sagittal alignment of the thoracic spine is kyphotic: 40 degrees in adults. (Neumann D.A. 2002).  With that said, we are not really talking about the T-spine being “extended”, but instead are talking about the relative amount of flexion that an athlete is in.  With that description, it’s important to appreciate that T-spine extension drills are working to put an athlete into an acceptable amount of flexion!  It is this flexion (or convexity) that provides a surface for the concave, ventral surface of the scapula to “float” on and create the scapulothoracic joint. “

Hear that? Thoracic spine movility drills are actually about optimizing flexion, not necessarily increasing extension.

If you’re familiar with the joint-by-joint approach, we are taught that different segments of the body tend to need either more mobility or stability:

Joint — Primary Need

Ankle — Mobility (sagittal)

Knee — Stability

Hip — Mobility (multi-planar)

Lumbar Spine — Stability

**Thoracic Spine — Mobility**

Scapula — Stability

Gleno-humeral — Mobility

 

This is well and good, but is it not also possible that a joint can become so mobile in one direction that it gets stuck there? In the case of the T spine, if you spend most of life extending it, it might need help getting back to a reasonable degree of flexion.

I don’t have enough T spine flexion. Some of my dance clients also lack T spine flexion. Are you one of us??

It is common for dancers to have a hard time differentiating better lumbar and T spine extension. Before I would assume that it was because they just needed more T spine extension, and the issue would correct itself. I know now that it’s not that simple.

What if your T spine is already so extended that it can’t move any more, and the only option is to get that movement from somewhere else, like the lumbar spine?

So that said, I want to share with you some of the things I’ve changed about how I work with dancers on T-spine function. Now that I probably know what I’m doing. Kindof. Better than 2 years ago anyway.

 Considerations for improving T spine function in dancers:

1. Assess whether it’s actually a T-spine extension limitation, or an anterior core stability issue.

If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing. If it rhymes it must be true.

If you’re just assuming a dancer needs more T spine mobility, worst case you might be hurting them, medium case you’re wasting both of your time, and best case you might have actually helped with something.

That’s 1/3 odds. I’d rather assess.

Most dancers spend life in extension (photo above). Being stuck in extension, with a lengthening of the anterior core can make it difficult to keep them abs engaged when they need to be. A stable core keeps the T spine anchored down, allowing it to extend to it’s max.

To assess this, looks at T spine extension on the floor vs. standing.

If while on the floor, no gravity to fight, T spine extension is fine, but while standing it suffers, then it’s likely to be more related to core stability than an actual lack of T spine extension.

Try this: Perform first a lumbar locked thoracic extension rotation exercise, like below:

Next, perform a standing multisegmental extension, or backbend, like so:

Is her T spine extending? Nope. Check out all that movement at the TL junction though…

If you can extend your t spine on the floor, but not standing up, you might have a core stability issue, not an actual lack of T spine extension.

All the T spine mobility drills in the world won’t help her backbend improve, it might just make things worse, adding mobility where it isn’t needed.

2. Differentiate between a need for thoracic flexion and extension.

These days I’m not doing as many T spine extension drills because dancers are so good at extending through their T spine that they need a little bit of flexion. Yes. Sometimes you need to work on T spine flexion to bring them back to an acceptable neutral.

Remember the core pendulum theory popularized by Charlie Weingroff: A joint functions best when it is centrated, not when it’s stuck in the extreme of one range of motion. If the T spine is stuck off center, in extension, how can you expect it to extend more?

I’m sorry if I’m making posture that much more complicated for you.

Here is one example of a hypokyphotic T spine (needing more flexion):

originally from ericcressey.com

 

In dance the emphasis is always on extending MORE.

Another sign that you might need to get a bit more T spine flexion is the position of the shoulder blades.

The photo below is a client of mine:


Check out that right scapula. Now, she had a few subluxations that she forgot to tell me about, and there are a few other things affecting her scapula position, but lacking T spine  flexion can also create this look. The scapula might be in an ok position, but the T spine may be so extended that the scapula appears to poke out.

It’s easy to confuse this look with hyperkyphosis, but it’s really just the shoulder blade poking out.

TO help correct this, did we do T spine extension drills? Hell no. In conjunction with scapular movement mechanics we also worked on T spine flexion, breathing, and neck alignment. One of the strategies we used was actually coaching her downward dog to get a bit more T spine flexion.

It seemed to help:

Bam. Scapula sitting nicely on the ribcage and T spine.

You can also check out T spine flexion in a standing forward bend. Below you’ll see how her upper back doesn’t flex. Neither does a huge portion of her lower back… A little flexion deficient this one is:


Working on T spine extension drills probably won’t be helpful for her, either.

In many cases, lack of T spine flexion goes hand in hand with poor diaphragm function and rib flare, so working on proper breathing mechanics is hugely helpful.

3. I’m looking more at rotational asymmetries than saggital plane extension.

Most dancers have a strong bias to stand on their left leg and rotate (turn) to the right, in a pirouette or fouette turn for example,  which can lead to range of motion or motor control issues with rotating in one direction.

A dance client I’m working with right now has this issue. She has tons of active T spine rotation in one direction, but in the other probably about 50% as much. Passively, she’s got more than enough in both ways, but the motor control is a bit screwy and asymmetrical.

Rotational stability for dancers is a huge deal and is something you should be looking at due to the nature of the art form. DOn’t limit yourself to looking only at saggital plane extension (forward and back bending)

My preferred way to look at T spine rotation is to look at soft rolling patterns in conjunction with NeuroKinetic Therapy rotation assessments, like this:

It’s magical when you find a quad overworking and screwing up a rotational pattern and then seeing how that can help a dancer improve their balance and turns.

Do I sometimes still do T spine extension drills? For sure, but a lot more rarely than I need to work on core stability, T spine flexion, and asymmetries in rotation and control.

So I guess to sum up what you should take away is to get assessed, don’t just guess that you need more T spine extension, because you might actually need to opposite.

Stretches You Need to Stop Doing vol. 1

Stretches You Need to Stop Doing vol. 1

In recent years (months, even) I’ve changed my mindset as it relates to flexibility and stretching.

Having spent 10+ years contentedly overstretching the crap out of my ligaments and testing the integrity of my hip labrums and knee meniscii (meniscuses?), I am now just as happy to not do any stretching.

Because sometimes less is more.

And because the other day, when going up the stairs, I realized that what I thought was the floor creaking was actually my knee. I’m in my 20s. These are not the sounds I wish my knees to make at this stage in my life.

I can’t do the splits anymore and that’s just peachy. And even though I can’t do the splits I can somehow actively lift my legs higher than I used to (except that damn arabesque, the bane of my existence).

And I enjoy dance more today with less flexibility than I did back in the day, when I could over-split and fold myself in half.

These days, my active and passive flexibility are almost on par, and so even though I’m not as passively flexible (less splat) I can actually control my movement through it’s full range of motion. It feels pretty good to be in control.

If you take anything away from this blog post, let it be this: Control > splat.

Your new rule of life. And things hurt much less when you follow this rule, by the way.

Control= Your stretching must involve a need to stabilize a proximal (closest to your center) structure.  If you’re familiar with the joint-by-joint approach, you already know that proximal stability allows for distal mobility.

Because as a dancer, you’re probably not lacking any passive range of motion. I’d wager that to get more hip mobility, for example, you’d be better off working on lumbar spine stability. Less splat, more control.

I am not against stretching as a whole. Just the ones that are silly and you might regret 10 years from now. The ones that make your knees and hips degenerate prematurely.

Today’s stretch I wish you would stop doing:

 The “hip flexor stretch” lunge. Because your hips feel tight…

Oh your hips are tight? Maybe it’s because your ligaments hate you.

I know you totally do this stretch because I used to do it too!

It’s possible that because you stretch your hips like above, you’ve overstretched some ligaments, and now, instead of having nice taught ligament support, your muscles need to take on more of a stability role becoming more like pseudo ligaments.

Your hip flexors are meant to flex your hips! Not act as ligaments preventing you from hyperextending. They should be helping you produce force, not bracing against doom.

This bracing is why your hips feel tight. Because they are tight. Reflexively tight, in an attempt to protect the joint. But it’s not an indication to stretch!

Instead of allowing the hip flexors like iliacus, TFL, pectineus, and rec. fem. to have a moment of relaxation, you inadvertently stress them to the point of protective tension because with the ligaments on stretch, increasing muscle tone is the best strategy to prevent your hips and spine from exploding. 


sacroiliac sprain

The goal of a hip flexor stretch is to go from hip flexion into extension, or even hyperxtension, without letting the spine or pelvis compensate (splat), and without putting undue stress on passive structures like ligaments and bones.

The hip flexor stretch above ain’t stretching crap.

Here’s why:

Issue 1: Losing pelvic and spinal neutral.

On closer inspection, you’ll notice her pelvis is rotating both into the saggital plane and transverse plane while also compressing slightly her lumbar spine.

Is she maintaining a level pelvis? Nope. She’s going into an anterior pelvic tilt, right pelvic rotation, and a bit of lumbar extension. Does this stretch, therefore, require her to stabilize anything? No.

Should you do a stretch that doesn’t have a stability component? No.

Remember, control>splat. Proximal stability for distal mobility.

Issue 2: Relying on passive structures in end range

In this stretch, because she is twisting and bending to get into a deeper range of motion, she is bypassing anything productive and putting her iliofemoral and iliolumbar ligaments on stretch instead. Maybe even some bone-on-bone action, too.

By the way, bone impinging upon bone is not pleasant.

Once a ligament becomes over-stretched, it can never go back to the way it was before.Without ligament support the joint loses proprioception, dynamic stability, and becomes at risk for degeneration

If she can’t maintain level pelvis in this range of motion, I doubt she is in control here. If she can’t breathe diaphragmatically in this position, then she for sure is not in control, as I like to use the ability to breathe as a barometer for positional stability.

And if she can’t control this range of motion statically, then I would be super impressed if she can control it it while dancing.

So what should you do instead?

Try an exercise that forces you to maintain a level pelvis, while extending the back hip. Try something that requires some core stability. Maintaining level pelvis require the abdominals to actively stabilize your spine, and your brain might actually allow your limbs to move freely because they have an anchor.

Like a ship anchored down, it can drift safely within the range of it’s chain. If you want more freedom, you increase the length of the chain. You get that core locked down. This happens in the motor control center of the brain, not at your ligaments.

Try half kneeling variations like a halo or anti-rotation press that challenges you in all planes of movement, maintaining a neutral spine and pelvis, while helping you get into more hip extension. Or just hold half kneeling and breathe, because sometimes, that’s enough of a challenge.

Here is an excellent primer for setting up correctly in half kneeling.

And then progress to something like this:

Think she’s not feeling a stretch? You better believe it. And her core is working like mad to not fall over.

Dance isn’t about flinging yourself into a range of motion that you have no control over. Well, sometimes it is. But that sure doesn’t feel great on the body after a while, and if you are a competitive dancer or gymnast, you know this first hand.

Ligament laxity is super impressive, but is it worth it when you need hip replacements at 30? It’s your call.